HARLINGEN — A fresh fleet of golf carts is on its way.
Earlier this week, city commissioners approved the $240,257 purchase of 65-gas powered golf carts for the Tony Butler Golf Course.
Players can say good-bye to the course’s 75 electric golf carts, which the city is trading in for $82,500 as part of the deal with the Yamaha Golf Car Co. approved in a meeting Tuesday night.
The city cited several factors behind its decision to replace the electric fleet made up of 25 2014 carts, 25 2015 carts and 25 2016 carts.
“If we didn’t have to replace the carts, we wouldn’t be doing it,” Assistant City Manager Carlos Sanchez said yesterday.
To finance the purchase, the city will use the golf course’s $38,000 golf cart depreciation fund to help make the first year’s payment of $54,444.
Sanchez said savings stemming from the vacancy of the golf course’s administrative assistant position will fund the remainder of the first payment.
The city, he said, “took a deep and hard look” at replacing the fleet for the golf course which has run a deficit for about five years.
For years, the Tony Butler Golf Course remained the Rio Grande Valley’s only self-sustaining municipal golf course.
But like many golf courses across the country, it has drawn fewer players in recent years.
Since about 2013, the golf course has lost money.
Golf pro Eddie Medlin cites a key factor as a drop in Winter Texan golfers.
With annual expenditures of about $1.2 million, falling revenues have left deficits ranging from $48,324 to $302,587.
At the golf course, cart rentals are part of the daily operations.
Last year, rentals generated $126,210 in revenue, Sanchez said.
Sanchez said gas-powered carts are more cost-efficient than electric carts, which require new $700 batteries about every three years.
The electric fleet required about $50,000 worth of new batteries, Sanchez said.
Sanchez said the city had provided inaccurate information regarding battery prices for yesterday’s article on costs associated with replacing its golf carts.
Meanwhile, a lease agreement required the city to make a $40,000 December payment to keep its 25 2016 carts, Sanchez said.